Cape Town – On Saturday morning, Pluto Road was lined with hundreds of people who came to say their final goodbyes to slain three-year-old Courtney Pieters.
Over 200 bikers, and community members from across the Cape, came out in droves to pay their respects. Politician Dan Plato and gospel singer Bella were also in attendance.
Courtney was reported missing on 4 May. She was last seen in Salberau, not far from her home. Her lifeless body was discovered last week Saturday in shallow grave in Epping Industria. Family friend and tenant Mortimer Saunders, 40, was arrested for her rape and murder.
The morning started with the family members at their Salberau home having a few private moments to say farewell.
When Courtney’s body arrived for the funeral procession, the hearse was accompanied by a motorcycle escort and a brass band.
The house was filled with flowers, and the tears flowed as she was remembered by her family and loved ones.
From there, the funeral procession made its way to the Adriaanse Community Hall, in Clarke Estate, where hoards of people crammed in for heartwrenching funeral service.
The media was asked to refrain from making video recordings.
Pastor van Rensberg, an officer of the the Apostolic church, opened the service by saying: “We all know today is about a little girl that crawled into our hearts in two weeks.”
The second officiating officer, Pastor Norgabie said: "Courtney left this world because God needed her light. She is now a jewel in His crown.
"Courtney has crept into our hearts and innocent Courtneys are still everywhere — we must protect our children... God says 'let the children come to me'.
"We must find peace, we need to let her go so she may rest. And we must always remember things happen in God's time, not our own."
After the brief funeral, the procession moved to Modderdam Road Cemetery, in Belhar, where an emotional procession of people patiently awaited Courtney's arrival.
The path to her final resting place was lined with a human chain who created an arch of roses.
Courtney's family was inconsolable at her graveside, and sobbed uncontrollably as her little coffin was lowered into the ground.
Hundreds of residents had earlier also taken part in a peace march from the nearby Elsies River High School.
Courtney's father, Aaron Fourie, told Weekend Argus it had been an "exhausting week".
More images from Courtney's funeral: Tweets about @Saafia_saafiaf #CourtneyPieters
"The community has been supportive and that has lifted me up. That's what's kept me above water. That's kept me where I am.
"He (Mortimer) was my best friend", said Fourie. "I feel angry andheart sore. I don't know what went through his head. The answers you'll only get from him, no one else. I will be attending every court appearance. Juanita (Courtney's mother) is even more angry than I am – that I can tell you for sure.
"I told her be strong, I am by your side."